Clean Run - March 2013 - (Page 5)
Would You Treat a Dog Like That?
This editorial may be about me, but it wasn’t written for
me—it was written for you, and the future of our sport.
We are all familiar with the volumes of posts and articles
written to instruct us on how to properly care for our agility partners—the importance of nourishment, exercise, play,
companionship. We’ve read about the caring organizations
that help abandoned, relinquished, sick, or abused dogs.
These stories quickly go viral and we slurp it up and re-post
at every opportunity.
But how do we treat our fellow competitors in agility, the
other devotees of the sport—those outside our “favorites”
circle. Are they just in the way? Do we care at all whether
they get to play? Does it matter when we hurt them?
Like you I am an agility addict—but not anymore. I didn’t
quit. It wasn’t voluntary. It was stolen from me through successive acts of bullying.
I do not aspire to a world team, or even a national championship. I am just one of the many quiet “invisible” competitors who play in local trials. Don’t get me wrong, I train
competitively—I read, I watch videos, I stream competitions, I practice handling moves in airports, I go to seminars, and I take notes and record my mistakes. Slowly I was
getting better. My dog and I were becoming a team, beyond
All I wanted from this sport was to play this sport with my
dog. All I wanted was to learn how to train and handle my dog
with joy and speed and focus around the course. All I wanted
was that perfect run, where we would have that rare communication, where time slows down and sound fractures.
But that is not all that agility meant to me. It was about my
health—keeping my weight down and my heart strong, eating right. It was about social activities with friends and acquaintances who love the sport as much as I do. It was about
stretching my boundaries—trying to learn how to do something that I shouldn’t be able to do. It was about the mental
aspects of the sport—focus, concentration, clarity. It was
about personal growth, but it was also about painting contacts, throwing grass seed, moving soil, designing courses,
teaching, hauling equipment—we all pay our dues.
But more than anything, agility to me was about a partnership—a partnership forged with, and from, trust and
March 13 | Clean Run
respect. It was about the conviction that this sport could
teach us all a lot about our social interactions, about playing fair, showing respect for others, caring for others, and
building a collective spirit.
How we treat our fellow competitors speaks to the future
of this sport. How we treat each other describes us. Much
has been written in the press recently about children bullying each other—bullying that has had tragic and fatal consequences. But bullying is not limited to children—adults
bully too. And bullying is not limited to physical acts of
aggressive behavior—verbal abuse, mobbing, ridicule, insults, gossiping, spreading lies and rumors, refusing to talk
to someone, and exclusion are all examples of bullying.
When these are done to you more than once, repeatedly
over a period of time or in a series of rapidly escalating
incidents, that is bullying. And, our sport is not immune to
incidents like these.
No matter what form the bullying takes, it can make you
feel depressed, uncomfortable, hurt, and alone. It can keep
you from enjoying the activities and places that were part
of your life. How does one describe the importance of a
seemingly inconsequential activity such as dog agility on
one’s life—the loss of a passion, the goals, the triumphs
and tribulations, the quest for that elusive communication and perfect harmony? My desire to embrace the sport
hasn’t changed—what has changed is my ability to participate fully. I don’t know how I will accommodate the
change in my life—this loss has been devastating.
Bullying in any form is an act of violence; it should not
be condoned or disguised at any time. It is cowardly and
it is mean.
Getting rid of bullying is all about what you choose to do.
Do you choose to pass on a damaging rumor, whisper with
friends ringside about how bad someone’s handling is, roll
your eyes when you discover who your draw pairs partner
is...? Or do you choose fairness, honesty, respect, and consideration—even empathy? Do you choose to give the same
consideration to your words and actions with other people
that you do in your relationship with your dog?
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run - March 2013
Clean Run - March 2013
Editorializing: Would You Treat a Dog Like That?
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Knowledge Equals Speed! Teaching Verbal Directional Commands, Part 1
Power Paws Drills: Gnarly Rears
Ultimate Instructors: What Makes a Really Good Instructor?
Can You Handle It?
Head-Turning Turns, Part 3
The 10-Minute Trainer
Busting the Myths: Set Goals? Or Just Enjoy the Moment?
Out Spot Out! Five Required Skills for Successful Distance Work
Living Room Agility: Front & Rear Crosses
Nutrition for the Canine Athlete, Part 2
Puppy Agility Games, Part 1
Training with the Stars: Greg Derrett
The Judge’s Debriefing
Foundation Jumping, Part 1
Clean Run - March 2013